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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 30, 2010
From the business Editor
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WSE turns 19
April 30, 2010   
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The Warsaw Stock Exchange is 19 years old. It has traveled a long road since its launch on April 16, 1991 when only five companies were traded. Today more than 500 companies are listed on all WSE markets.

Over the past two decades, the WSE has become the leader in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of the capitalization of listed companies and turnover volume. In recent years, the WSE has been among the top European markets in terms of the number of new listings and the value of IPOs. There is every indication that the exchange’s role will grow further soon. The chief reason is the upcoming debut of PZU SA, Poland’s largest insurance group, whose initial public offering is planned for May.

PZU’s offering will be the biggest IPO in the history of Poland’s capital market. If all the shares on offer—29.9 percent of the company’s share capital—are sold, the value of the offering will exceed zl.7.5 billion. This will significantly increase the capitalization of Poland’s stock market. Moreover, PZU reports excellent financial results and the insurance sector as a whole is attractive to investors. All this bodes well for the offering and the listing, experts say.

Analysts expect a substantial interest in PZU shares among both Polish and foreign institutional investors as well as individual investors. The offering is expected to attract domestic investment and pension funds, in addition to sizable demand from foreign investors, who are likely to be drawn by the offering’s volume and the fact that it involves a company from the insurance sector.

PZU’s IPO should be of interest to many individual investors, analysts say. As there have been few offerings of this size and with such a high profile on the Polish stock market in recent years, many individual investors have lost interest in the WSE. Now many of them may come back, accompanied by many first-time investors, experts say. Optimists predict that PZU’s IPO will draw up to 500,000 individual investors to the trading floor.

PZU’s IPO in May will not be the only big new listing on the WSE this year. Subsequent months will bring the sale of stakes in the country’s largest energy corporations—Polska Grupa Energetyczna, Enea, and Tauron. But the highlight of the year will be the privatization of the Warsaw Stock Exchange itself.
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